Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a good supplement to natural search engine optimization, IF you keep a few tactics straight.
1. Choose the right search terms.
If you go after the broad phrases and terms, you'll pay top dollar. Strive for more descriptive and specific search terms that reflect your products or services.
2. Map out a strategy.
Don't go after every possible keyword or phrase. Target your online ads around business priorities--such as seasonal purchases, your most profitable products and services, etc.
3. Use bid management software.
Software can regulate your bids and turn off keywords. You might be interested in clicks during business hours; you might not want to pay for those clicks at 1 a.m. (There's less of a chance that it's a business prospect at that time of night).
4. Write effective ads.
Google, Yahoo! Searching Marketing and other services have limits on characters per line. With Google, it's tough not to push the limits because space is so narrow. With Yahoo! Searching Marketing, focus on getting your message across without consuming every character. Long ads may discourage people from reading them.
5. Test. Test. Test.
Try different keywords, ad copy, landing pages and calls to action. Put your budget - whatever size it is - to the best use after effective evaluation.
The Search Engine Marketing Industry is estimated to reach $23 billion by 2010.
The vast majority of SEM investment in the coming years will involve pay-per-click. We applaud the SEM vendors and companies who can prepare a coherent plan that produces outstanding conversions.
But for all the clicks and conversions via pay-per-click, many SEM players will miss the lead generation that natural SEO offers through greater Internet acceptance and traffic. The fact is, people are far more likely to click on a natural listing. Studies show that about 60%-70% of the links people click on are organic, not the PPC variety.
Again, be careful how you spend your online advertising dollars. Make them work for you!
Michael Murray is vice president of Fathom SEO, a Cleveland, Ohio-based search engine marketing (SEM) firm. A member of Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), he also authored the white paper, "Search Engine Marketing: Get in the Game."